By Josephine Mugiyo
GOVERNMENT says the increasing obsession by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora- CITES to over-regulate international trade has affected Zimbabwe’s ivory trade, choking operations in wildlife management in the process.
This Tuesday saw stakeholders from the environment and wildlife sectors converging for a preparatory meeting as the country works on key points on conservation to be presented at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) COP 19 summit pencilled for Panama in November.
In a speech read on his behalf by Chief Director in the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Professor Prosper Matondi, Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu said Zimbabwe has always obliged with the CITES requirements yet there is no reciprocity by the organisation’s secretariat to treat the country fairly on issues that affect wildlife conservation.
Zimbabwe is sitting on more than 130 000 tonnes of ivory stock piles due to the CITES ban on ivory trade.
“As we approach COP 19, we still believe that a way of disposing our ivory stockpile should be found. We still believe that international commercial trade in live wildlife species especially elephants must continue because ecologically, it is becoming unsustainable to maintain the current population levels.”
“These anti-trade alliances whose voice unfortunately continues to grow louder each passing day have found a way of soft steering CITES to vacate its sustainable international trade facilitation mandate. CITES is now increasingly becoming obsessed with overregulation of international trade to the point of choking the entire system,” he said.
As COP 19 approaches, Honourable Ndlovu said apart from lobbying for the lifting of the ivory trade ban, the country is also interested in finding ways of harnessing the community voice in CITES decision making processes.
Stakeholders have also agreed to develop a communication strategy to create new audiences and access international advisors to state parties and non-state actors.
The country is also working with fellow African countries in lobbying for the lifting of the ivory trade ban.